Two Austin residents want county treasurer#039;s post

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 28, 2002

Ruth Harris, one of the most senior public servants in terms of employment of Mower County, is retiring. That clears the way for a replacement. Which one will it be? Doug Groh, the chief deputy auditor for Mower County, or Lynn Koch, an Austin businessman? Here are the candidates' profiles in their own words:

Doug Groh

Prior elective office experience: None

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Profession: Chief Deputy Auditor, Mower County

Why are you seeking this office?

I have the essential Mower County experience needed in the treasurer's office. I've been trained in Minnesota Property Tax and have the accounting background to manage the county financial system. I can provide an effective leadership role in providing for the future of Mower County as key personnel retire within the next 3-4 years.

What is the top (concern) priority of the treasurer's office?

After 35 years of outstanding service, the current treasurer is retiring. It's important for the taxpayer and the staff of the treasurer's office that we have a qualified person that knows the functions and systems involved in managing this office.

What solutions do you offer?

Elect me to the position of treasurer. I have committed 13 years of time and energy in preparing for this position. You need someone that will devote 100 percent of their energy to this position to fulfill the immense void the departure of Ruth Harris will leave.

What are your thoughts on public service?

A public servant's responsibility is to uphold the public trust in its government, to understand the power of governing rests with the people, and most importantly, not to take any action that rejects or belittles its citizens.

Lynn Koch

Prior elective office experience: None

Profession: I have been in banking and finance for the past 23 years including serving as president of two local banks. My career experience with Farm Credit Services enables me to better understand the issues that consume our rural communities and

farmers. Currently, I am the president of Austin Mortgage Company, a mortgage brokerage business I founded two years ago.

Why are you seeking this office?

I am seeking this office for two reasons. One is that I was asked by both the current and past county treasurers if I would consider running. They expressed to me that I was qualified and had the experience to perform the duties of the office. The second reason is that my leadership & financial skills might be a valuable resource to the taxpayers of Mower County and our elected county commissions. I will work hard to maintain a safe fund balance and at the same time identify areas that may reduce the excess that appears to be present.

What is the top priority?

The top priority will be evaluate our county balance sheet, cash flow and fund balances. I work with our county commissioners to maximize our investment opportunities and at the same time look for areas that could save taxpayer money. A safe and effective way to reduce our fund balances to a more reasonable level will be my top priority.

What solutions do you offer?

I would first research any new budget requests that could possibly raise taxes. With our current fund balances, I would find ways to at least maintain, if not reduce our county's need for additional taxation. Our current confidence that we have already built into fund balances looks to be an opportunity for an area of reduction. Projects that are years away should be reevaluated to determine if those projects my be better funded by taxpayers closer to the time it is needed instead of so far in advance. In my opinion, the county needs a safe level of reserves, but does not need excess contingencies. A taxing unit should not be utilized their fund balances the same as a persons or businesses finances.

What are your thoughts on public service?

The trust that the public puts in a person to do a job for our county should not be taken lightly. A person with the responsibilities of a public office needs to be able to demonstrate leadership and be a respected resource in their field of expertise. Turf issues are always a struggle in the public arena. However, it is important for a leader to build consensus to accomplish what is needed to be done in the best interest of the taxpayer. The bottom line is at you are not serving the interests of a few but you are serving the interest of the whole.